06 May 5 Workplace Communication Challenges & How to Overcome Them

Businesses are heavily dependent on assets; tangible and intangible both. Assets should generate revenue for the business, add to its value and ensure that it functions successfully and profitably.

Despite the evolution of technology, and our growing dependence on it, employees continue to be the most crucial asset to a business’ success.

In a similar fashion to machines, humans too tend to face ‘breakdowns’ or issues that need to be resolved. From workplace communication to teamwork, employees may often face challenges in various aspects that affect the business’ future extensively. Therefore, knowledge of a possible challenge will help you, and your company, avoid the challenges to take place or be better prepared for them.

As communication (internal or external) is THE most crucial element for a business’ success, it is mandatory for the employers and managers to tackle issues surrounding it in an effective & efficient manner. Here are 5 workplace communication challenges your teams might face and how to resolve them:

1. Language Barriers

Workforce diversity is on a constant rise as employees migrate across the globe in search for better opportunities, and employers recruit internationally to gain a competitive advantage.

However, the increased diversity also creates a language barrier among the workforce, with each employee preferring to communicate in their local language. Employees may express themselves better in their native language and, therefore, might find switching to English (or the official business language) tricky.

The Solution: Offering international employees local language training, as well as familiarizing locals with basic foreign language skills, is the ideal solution to overcoming the challenge of language barriers. Not only will this improve workplace communication, but it will also support them in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities in a cohesive environment.

2. One-Way Communication

Businesses that don’t encourage junior-level employees to share their ideas or voice their opinions, and are autocratic in nature, tend to face communication breakdowns. As the employee’s voice isn’t heard, new opportunities are lost and productivity levels are dropped.

In other cases, despite measures taken by the management to create an environment of two-way communication, the workplace culture doesn’t allow the action to be effective. Whatever may be the reason, one-way communication reduces a company’s chances of achieving greater success and competing profitably.

The Solution: You may conduct communication training that enables your team to define a clear chain of command, restore their faith in voicing opinions openly, and add to the progress of the business as one unit.

Communication Challenges & How to Overcome Them

3. Direct Vs. Indirect Communication

Cultural differences between employees, a prominent result of workforce diversity, may also bring about a difference in workplace etiquette and culture.

For example, business culture in the West has evolved to direct, two-way communication between employees and teams. The hierarchy, despite being an important aspect of the business, does not constrict the manner of workplace communication.

On the other hand, organizations in the East follow a traditional corporate culture where the hierarchy is essential to the business code of conduct and communication. For example, the Chinese believe it is rude for a junior associate to add their views when not being asked for their opinion. This leads to indirect communication, where the message is lost somewhere along the chain of command and is as good as redundant when received by the management.

The Solution: Outlining a productive and direct chain of communication can help eradicate the problems that arise with indirect communication. Additionally, creating an atmosphere that encourages employees to have a direct relationship with the senior leadership team will also help in avoiding communication breakdowns.

4. New Recruits, New Attitudes

A new employee from a different nationality, culture, or industry may join the organization with a new, unfamiliar attitude. Coming from a different workplace environment, they may not be accustomed to the organization’s way of communication. Or, they may have a different attitude in the workplace, which may or may not sit well with the other employees.

Similar to cultural differences between the East and the West, new employees could respond differently to the organization’s hierarchy and the accepted workplace etiquette.

The Solution: Including onboard training as part of your recruitment process will help the new employees learn about the company culture prior to starting work with other team members. This will help them be aware of how the business functions and the type of communication expected at the office. Additionally, the training will make it easier for new employees to learn about the company and ease their way into the social circle of the place.

5. Mismatched Goals

Contrary to popular belief, most communication problems occur due to simple misunderstandings between what people are asked to do and what they actually do. These misunderstandings lead to disparity between the goals of the employer or organization and that of the employee. Consequently, business is affected as targets aren’t met, work is compromised and clients are left unhappy.

The Solution: Achieve clarity in how you communicate with your team and colleagues, ensure that they have understood exactly what you mean and support them in fulfilling their task to achieve the desired results. Additionally, make it certain that the objective of the company (long-term and short-term) is understood by the management as well as the lower-level employees, and that their actions & tasks involve supporting each other in achieving the same target.

Want to improve your team’s communication & achieve higher profits? Start with foreign language training for improved communication! Get in touch.


About the Author: Saania K. is passionate about language learning and cultural appreciation for business. She speaks English and Hindi and is considering learning Spanish. Powerful!

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